POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Sheriff’s Department has received two grants to pay for overtime to enforce speeding violations on U.S. 35.
Sheriff Greg Powers said the department received a grant for $5,000 back in May and another for $2,500 this month to help pay for deputies to work additional hours specifically on U.S. 35 - one of Mason County’s most troubled roads. The grant came from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.
Powers said the department has received previous grants from the safety office for things like DUI checkpoints, enforcing school zone safety, etc. Departments must meet certain criteria to continue to be chosen for the money and if they meet this criteria, will likely be chosen to receive more grant money - hence the recent grants totaling $7,500 specifically earmarked for U.S. 35.
Powers said himself and Chief Deputy Dave Downing work with Larry Kendall and Beau Evans from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. Powers said Evans contacted Downing about the grants and in addition, the safety office provided the department with three, hand-held radar units to assist in catching speeders on U.S. 35.
Powers said the grants are already being used and people are being ticketed. He said the majority of those receiving tickets are from out of Mason County.
“Most people who live around here know how treacherous route 35 can be,” Powers said.
There are 13 law enforcement officers in the sheriff’s department who can work U.S. 35, though these same officers are also working across the county on a variety of other calls. Last year, the sheriff’s department was dispatched by Mason County 9-1-1 on 5,737 calls - Powers said that number doesn’t include calls deputies answered which came directly into the office or calls that were the result of investigations.
Deputies who will specifically work the grant to enforce speeding violations on U.S. 35 will do so in addition to and above their own workload and be paid for that overtime in an effort to keep the road safer.
Although the recent fatalities on U.S. 35 were related to vehicles allegedly passing in no passing zones, speeding is still an issue on U.S. 35 and it’s hoped a heightened presence will have an effect on not only speeding but the decision making of drivers.